Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
'Homicide' star plays Marine John Basilone in the HBO miniseries
Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, John Basilone had just turned 25 and had already done three years of Army duty in the Philippines.
Seda will turn 40 later this year, but hardly anybody will look at him in the context of the epic 10-part World War II miniseries and think he looks older than any of his colleagues. It's only when you start thinking of Seda's work in movies like "Twelve Monkeys" and "The Sunchaser" from the mid-90s, or TV roles including "Homicide: Life on the Street" or "UC: Undercover" that you remember that he's been acting steadily and often impressively for a decade-and-a-half.
Or, put a different way, Seda's been a film and television star since he was Basilone's age.
HitFix caught up with Seda a couple weeks back to talk about his acclaimed HBO production and about his almost eerie agelessness...
Click through for the full interview, edited slightly to remove a few major spoilers. Minor spoilers still remain, but with warning...
Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Breaking Bad,' 'The United States of Tara' and listener mail
Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad'
Happy Wednesday, Boys and Girls.
It's time for another Wednesday installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast
, now available for free via subscription at the iTunes Store
This week, Alan Sepinwall
and I didn't discuss a lot of things, but we seem to have discussed them for a long time, making this our first podcast to cross the one-hour mark. At this rate, we'll spend all-day Wednesday recording our podcasts and people can spend all-day Thursday fast-forwarding through them!
Here's what we discussed...
"Chuck" vs. Daylight Savings Time (34:10 - 40:00)
Listener Mail (40:45 - 52:30)
And here's this week's podcast:
Elmore Leonard, Timothy Olyphant and FX may be a perfect match
Timothy Olyphant of 'Justified'
When it comes to logical television partnerships, Elmore Leonard and FX
are as perfect a match as Jerry Bruckheimer & CBS or Jay Leno & NBC. They're made for each other and they deserve each other.
The new FX drama "Justified,"
which finds Graham Yost expanding on a character created by Leonard, is just the latest installment in the cable network's consistent commitment to badassery.
FX's heroes all seem to be outlaws, whether they're working inside the system (think Patty Hewes or Vic Mackey) or way outside (the bikers of "Sons of Anarchy"), whether they're challenging conventional standards of beauty (the now departed surgeons of "Nip/Tuck") or conventional standards of decency (the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" gang). We root for these anti-heroes on TV
, even if we might become truly uncomfortable spending time with them in the real world. They're charismatic, but dangerous. And they're much more interesting than most of the other characters on the small screen.
They're the sort of characters that Leonard has made a career out of writing, charmingly amiable criminals and chillingly disconnected lawmen, tough-talking women and colorfully profane men.
The pilot for "Justified" shows the potential for greatness and although later episodes might temper those expectations a tiny bit, FX's latest still looks like one of the spring's best scripted dramas.
[Full review after the break...]
Tyler Labine is a funny guy, but not in this strangely plotted FOX comedy
FOX's "Sons of Tucson
" premieres on Sunday (March 14) night. That isn't terrific timing, because it means that I'm transitioning into my review of the new comedy immediately after completing my review of HBO's "The Pacific," which also premieres on Sunday night.
That doesn't mean that I'm comparing the two projects. After all, as an epic HBO war miniseries, "The Pacific" has to live up to the standards of "Band of Brothers" and "Generation Kill," which as a FOX live-action comedy, "Sons of Tucson" only has to live up to the standards of "Brothers" and "'Til Death."
But as a critic, it comes down to this: "The Pacific" is awesome and ambitious, a TV
project I look forward to the entire world seeing. "Sons of Tucson" is flat and flabby and while I'm unoffended by it, I certainly don't much care whether or not people watch.
In fact, "Sons of Tucson" is probably somewhere in the upper half of FOX's recent live-action comedy development slate. It's better than any other live-action comedy FOX has aired this season and it's also better than things like "Do Not Disturb" and "Happy Hour."
But in a season that has seen the revitalization of the family comedy with "Modern Family" and "The Middle," "Sons of Tucson" hardly merits mention.
[Review after the break...]
HBO's 10-hour companion to 'Band of Brothers' is its own work of excellence
Jon Seda of HBO's 'The Pacific'
When I did my list of TV's Best of the Decade
for the Aughts, I excluded miniseries and and made-for-TV movies. If I'd chosen to expand that field, HBO
's "Band of Brothers" would have taken a place in the Top 10, probably the Top 5. If you're looking for the definitive narrative depiction of the American military experience on the European Front in World War II, "Band of Brothers" is a seminal achievement.
Finally making its beach landing more than eight years later, HBO's "The Pacific" aims for nothing less than being a similarly indispensable account of the island-hopping campaign on the Pacific Front. While classic status is determined by how well a project holds up in the memory years later (a test "Band of Brothers" passes), I have no hesitation in saying that, to date, "The Pacific" is 2010's first landmark piece of filmed entertainment.
Visceral enough to leave viewers shaking, but emotional enough to leave a mark hours and days later, "The Pacific" may or may not equal the overall quality of "Band of Brothers," but it's certainly a worthy companion. That's high praise.
[My extended review of "The Pacific" after the break... I'll try to avoid plot-based spoilers for the miniseries, though we are talking about history here...]
'Band of Brother' vet talks war, the Japanese and Clint Eastwood
Behind the scenes on HBO's 'The Pacific'
We all know the big names behind HBO
's "The Pacific," the Steven Spielbergs and the Tom Hankses.
The man behind most of the writing on the 10-hour miniseries, though, is Bruce C. McKenna, whose name is on seven of the 10 scripts and who served as showrunner and co-executive producer on the project.
McKenna is a veteran of "Band of Brothers," winning a WGA Award for the "Bastogne" script, but he took on new responsibilities on "The Pacific," crafting the overall narrative arc for the project and overseeing a select team of writers.
HitFix caught up with McKenna to talk about finding the specific story within the epic framework, about how they chose to depict the Japanese soldiers and about how you follow up two of the most ambitious miniseries projects in television history.
Why are the Heroes so bad at puzzles? And why did the former winner decide to return?
Tom Westman of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'
Within the sometimes arbitrary Heroes/Villains binary imposed by this "Survivor
" season, many contestants have seemed like equally viable candidates for both tribes.
Westman, though, there was never any question.
A former firefighter, Tom's run on "Survivor: Palau" was the stuff of legend. He built an alliance. He captured a shark. After the merge, he won five of seven individual immunity challenges. And, by a vote of 6-1, he won the million dollars. Tom was one of the strongest and most respected castaways in the show's history.
That respect and in-game heroism meant nothing, though, in "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
." Left out of a numbers' alliance from Day One and stuck on a dismally unsuccessfully tribe, Tom avoided elimination for as long as possible, even staving off defeat for one extra week with the help of a hidden immunity idol. When James injured his knee on Thursday (March 11) night's show, it looked as if Tom might escape once again, but a majority of the other Heroes favored a hobbled James (and the preservation of an alliance) over Tom's strengths and contributions.
On Friday, HitFix caught up with Tom to discuss the dysfunctional Heroes, his regrets at not teaming earlier with Cirie and the reasons why, after rejecting an invite for a previous All-Star season, he wanted to return.
Click through for the full interview...
Veteran military advisor talks about making actors cry and why chicks will dig 'The Pacific'
Tom Hanks, Dale Dye and Steven Spielberg on the set of 'The Pacific'
Even if you don't know who Captain Dale Dye
, USMC (Ret.) is -- and you darned well ought to know who he is -- you've seen the actors he's trained and the movies and TV projects he's held to his particular high standards.
When you see an interview or a DVD bonus feature in which the pretty young star of a war movie has complained about their pre-shoot boot camp and how without that boot camp, they never would have been able to get into character, to properly do justice to our men and women in uniform, odds are that that boot camp was run by Captain Dye.
Military advisor on films ranging from "Platoon" to "Saving Private Ryan" to "Band of Brothers" to "Tropic Thunder," Dye has become the go-to veteran for directors ranging from Steven Spielberg to Oliver Stone to Brian DePalma. He doesn't just know his stuff on an intellectual level. He lived it, earning multiple Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.
His most recent gig was on HBO
's "The Pacific
," where he put the stars, including James Badge Dale, John Seda and Joe Mazzello, through the paces necessary to do justice to the First Marine Division and their campaign through the Pacific front.
If you've ever wanted to know what, exactly, Dale Dye does on a movie, click through. He's a mighty impressive man...
Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'The Pacific,' the Oscar telecast, '24' and more
Timothy Olyphant of 'Justified'
Time for another Wednesday installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast
Last week, we warned you that *this* week's podcast was going to be a long one and we didn't lie. We chattered for 52 minutes this week, covering topics ranging from HBO's "The Pacific
" to FX's "Justified
" to the possible end of "24
." Because Alan seemed to want to, we talked about Adam Scott leaving "Party Down" and we covered usual subjects like "American Idol
" and "Lost
As you saw last week, we now have a dedicated RSS feed set up for the podcast, but more importantly, the Podcast is also now available on the iTunes store. Search for "Firewall & Iceberg" and it will show up, complete with an aesthetically pleasing image courtesy of Mr. David J. Loehr
. Or, you could just click this link and go straight to Firewall & Iceberg on the iTunes Store
If you subscribed last week via iTunes to the simple RSS feed, we'd love you if you'd subscribe to the actual iTunes store podcast. It's still free, but we just assume they keep track of subscriptions there. Also, if you wanted to rate the podcast (positively!!!) and write little (positive!!!) reviews of the podcast on the iTunes store, we'd be greatly appreciative.
So here's what we covered this week:
"American Idol" - 02:15 - 06:20
The Oscar telecast - 07:00 - 12:20
"The Pacific" - 13:24 - 20:25
"Sons of Tucson" - 24:20 - 27:20
"Justified" - 27:30 - 31:15
The possible end of "24" - 31:20 - 37:00
Adam Scott leaving "Party Down" - 37:30 - 43:30
"Lost" - 43:50 - 50:46
And here's the podcast:
The '24' veteran talks basic training and the emotional weight of the World War II epic
Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP
Fans of FOX's "24" may not have vivid memories of anything that James Badge Dale
's Chase did for the first 23 hours of Season 3, but they certainly remember the character's departure. Any time Jack Bauer uses an axe and chops off your hand to save the world? That's pretty memorable.
Since his season on "24," the 31-year-old actor has done theater in New York, had a recurring role on the short-lived "The Black Donnellys" and, if you were able to get past the A-listers around him, he had a pivotal part in the Oscar-winning thriller "The Departed."
Dale has probably his most formidable role to date as one of the three main stars of HBO
's "The Pacific,"
the premium cable giant's follow-up to the epic "Band of Brothers" miniseries. Dale plays Robert Leckie, who served in the 1st Marine Division during World War II and whose memoir "Helmet for My Pillow" is considered one of the definitive first-hand accounts of the war on the Pacific Front.
HitFix caught up with James Badge Dale, nearly ready to start filming the AMC series "Rubicon," last month in Beverly Hills to discuss "The Pacific" and the weight of being one of the stars of such a major undertaking...